Defecto – Progressive NemesisSaturday, 21st April 2018
Any leg up you can get in the industry to establish credibility, artists are wise to use those tools given the limitless options for entertainment within the ears and eyes of the consumers. For Danish progressive metal unit Defecto, a union between guitarist/vocalist Nicklas Sonne and Metallica producer Flemming Rasmussen evolved from a project situation into the band that we know today. In their seven years together, they’ve released a self-titled EP plus two albums – of which their latest Nemesis balances out tried and true musicianship-inclined progressive parts with a modern tone and hook appeal – as if acknowledging that you can love Dream Theater and Symphony X just as much as Alter Bridge or Devin Townsend.
Answering this questions as a collective fresh off a three-week European tour with Persefone and Oddland, you’ll learn more about the ties with Flemming, opening for Metallica in their home country, thoughts on progressive metal today, and a lot of concern regarding the distrust of science.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us regarding the formation of Defecto in the summer of 2011? Were you all familiar with each other through other local bands in the Danish metal/music scene, and did you know straight away the type of progressive metal style you wanted to develop?
Defecto: The formation of Defecto was actually initially a merging between Sonne’s own musical project – backed by Flemming Rasmussen and Jan Langhof (producer for Aqua, among others) – and a band which included Frederik on guitar and Thomas on bass. However, pretty quickly it became obvious that it would make more sense to just form a new band based on Sonne’s music, which was more ‘focused’ and hard-hitting than what Frederik and Thomas had been playing up until then. The band members have known each other for several years before starting Defecto however – Sonne and Frederik met for the first time around 2003/2004, and Frederik and Thomas had also been playing together in various other projects since 2003. The style was also pretty clear from the beginning due in large part to the many songs that Sonne came with, which basically became the entire first album, Excluded.
Dead Rhetoric: You released your self-titled EP in 2012 – how did the songwriting and recording sessions go, any specific takeaways (good or bad) that came up and how do you feel about the response from the press and fans?
Defecto: That’s a tough one – it’s a long time ago already! We were all quite inexperienced at that point, and the EP was the first ‘serious’ recording any of us did. The songs were written by Sonne (and one by Frederik) some time before the band even got together, so the band as a unit didn’t really ‘write’ the songs – but more ‘rearranged’ them, in a way. It is hard to think of specific takeaways – it was definitely a learning experience for all of us, but mostly the reception just told us that we had something that people seemed to enjoy.
Dead Rhetoric: There was a four-year gap between the debut album Excluded and your first release. What exactly occurred to cause this delay, and how did you garner the attention of Danish label Elevation Recordings for this release?
Defecto: The four-year gap was not initially intentional. Back when we were still working with Flemming Rasmussen, he was kind enough to let us use his studio facilities for recording (that’s where we recorded the drums), but unfortunately, he was also a very busy man (no surprise) – so that meant that we’d have to wait longer periods in order to get time in the studio. Apart from that, we didn’t really have any label or anything to release the album on, so we chose to wait until the right opportunity presented itself, instead of just releasing the album and hoping for the best. However, the four years meant that we had a lot of time to polish the songs and to really make them shine, so in the end it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for us.
Regarding the label, the founder of both Prime Collective and Elevation is Mirza Radonjica, who approached us after hearing about our upcoming release. He initially just wanted to help us with a promotional package, but we ended up being on his core roster of bands that he manages etc. – lucky for us, ‘cause he really knows what he’s doing!
Dead Rhetoric: Your latest album Nemesis appears to be another step up in terms of songwriting and performances for the band. Where do you see the development of the band record to record – and what did you want to achieve with Nemesis that maybe is different or special for Defecto?
Defecto: Thank you! We’re happy to hear that – we felt the same way, but it’s always difficult to tell since you’re so emotionally invested in the music you’re creating. We definitely felt like Nemesis was quite a big development for the band, pushing the barriers, while still remaining a lot of the same sound that was found on Excluded. What we wanted to achieve with Nemesis was basically to produce a bold, hard-hitting album that would show our technical chops while still being catchy and ‘fun’ to listen to. We think we achieved that.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you define progressive metal these days? It seems that the movement has broad appeal when you think about everything from Dream Theater to Devin Townsend to Periphery all being considered progressive…
Defecto: Progressive metal has evolved a lot in recent years, and as you say, it has become quite diverse and has grown a lot. Generally, we think it’s a great thing, since it just means that more people are growing aware of the progressive genre and can appreciate the advanced type of playing and songwriting that goes into that kind of music. However, there also seems to be some trends where a certain “sound” becomes the latest fad, and suddenly every metal band has to sound like that. At that point all the underground bands start copying from the same formula, and that can lead to a certain staleness in the scene.
Dead Rhetoric: How did it feel to open for the mighty Metallica in 2017 in the Royal Arena in Copenhagen, any special takeaways about that day/evening that will remain forever etched in the memory banks? And how does it feel to gain a ringing endorsement from early Metallica producer Flemming Rasmussen as well?
Defecto: Obviously, the gig with Metallica was a monumental event for us – something that all of us had been dreaming of ever since we started playing. A real dream come true. No doubt for all of us, that concert will stand clear in our memory for many years to come. And basically, we just had a blast that entire day – the Metallica crew was extremely nice, Big Mick helped us during soundcheck, we had an awesome time on the stage in front of 15,000 people and we got to meet Metallica. Everything we could have wished for. I think our biggest takeaway from that day was that we want to do it again!
Dead Rhetoric: Vocalist/guitarist Nicklas Sonne also is a part of Evil Masquerade and Section A as well – do other members have other outside projects/bands they pursue, and how does the band juggle the priorities between these efforts and Defecto, as I’d imagine there also are day jobs and families in the picture?
Defecto: Currently, both Nicklas, Mikkel and Thomas are playing with other bands, although not as much as with Defecto. There is a quite clear – though unspoken – rule in the band; either you’re in it 100%, or you’re not in. Not that we don’t allow people to do their own thing, including other bands etc. – but Defecto has to be priority #1. Otherwise things quickly go south if everybody starts prioritizing other musical projects. Regarding other personal endeavors such as work/school/family etc., we’re very flexible. We try to help each other in order to make it easy for all of us, so that we can function properly. We all either have jobs or are studying on the sideline.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you see as the biggest struggles to building a bigger or healthier following for a band at your stature?
Defecto: Getting outside Denmark! Not that we don’t like our home country – we do, obviously – but it’s not a great place to be if you want to be a big heavy metal band. Not a lot of people, and not a lot of metal fans compared to many other countries. So we definitely need to move beyond the Danish borders, but as soon as we do that, the competition definitely starts to increase, and the resources required to reach far also increases significantly.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the importance of social media/ promotion in getting across your ideas, visions, and music for Defecto?
Defecto: It’s absolutely a priority for us to stay current on social media as much as possible. It’s just a great tool to reach your fans and create a more engaging experience for them. Most of our activity is mainly broadcast via social media, so we absolutely take it seriously. It’s a great way to build a bigger following and also to get some quite clear information about what kinds of people that are into your music, which again can help you to identify how you can reach even further etc.. The only ‘problem’ is that it is very time consuming and can cost a lot of money in advertising.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the Danish metal scene these days? It seems like you’ve developed quite a potent landscape with bands of various styles making an impact on the international landscape through the years, from Mercyful Fate and Pretty Maids on forward…
Defecto: It’s quite healthy! We’ve got a lot of really cool bands in the underground, however we could definitely use some more bands in the slightly larger category. Apart from Volbeat, there’s not really any Danish metal bands that has grown really big. But of course, we’re hoping to change that!
Dead Rhetoric: What types of activities, interests, or passions do you like to pursue outside of music when you have the free time and energy to do so?
Defecto: We have lots! Sonne is a music producer (he mixed both Excluded and Nemesis) and runs his own studio – Sonne Studios. He’s also quite fond of photography. Frederik is studying Bioinformatics to become an engineer, so he’s got a lot to do in that department. Thomas loves to play poker, and often earns money doing so while we’re on tour. Apart from that, we do the typical stuff – play video games (mostly Sonne and Frederik), watch series/movies, travel etc..
Dead Rhetoric: What worries you most about the world that we live in today? And what do you think people today need to really think about and work upon to make the world better for future generations down the line?
Defecto: In recent years, there seems to be a growing distrust of science in general, which is absolutely not a good thing. For some reason, people seem to believe that scientifically accepted facts/theories are ‘just another opinion’ and that whatever opinion or theory they can form themselves in their basement is just as good. This has led to some pretty serious – and dangerous – misconceptions and conspiracy theories; climate change deniers, the anti-vaccination movement, flat-earth society etc.. Things that have been accepted as scientific fact for many years are now suddenly being discussed in the media again as if the truth is up for grabs. Often the people that shout the loudest (no matter how ignorant or oblivious) get to set the agenda, because the media lets them get airtime, which makes it seem like their opinion is valid and which unfortunately brings more people onto the conspiracy boat. Also on the political scene, facts are being twisted and distorted, wild theories with no basis in reality spreads like wildfire, and politicians are lying just so they can get voters for the next election. It’s not sustainable – and we hope that these things will not stay as prominent as they are right now.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the rest of 2018 for Defecto as far as activities, shows, tours, videos, and promotion? Has work already begun on the follow-up effort with songwriting, and if so what shape do you see the new material taking?
Defecto: We’ve got tons of stuff to do! Around 60-70 concerts planned for the year, which includes at least one more tour through Europe (apart from the one we just did with Persefone and Oddland). It also includes some awesome festivals; Copenhell and Skanderborg Festival (both in Denmark), Qstock (Finland), and some German festivals. The third album is also taking shape – so far, we’ve got around 15-20 songs in the demo stages, and we’re slowly starting to finish them so that hopefully we can record our third album before the year is done.